Photo: Entorno Inteligente retrieved

“I’ve been having contractions all day and the doctors haven’t seen me because they don’t have resources,” said Madelein Rojas outside the Uyapar Hospital while she was getting ready to spend the night in the parking lot. “I’m going to stay here because they’ll have to see me even with the baby already born. If I had money to go to a private hospital, I’m even less likely to get attention there.”

Madelein’s isn’t an isolated case. In early November, a video of a woman giving birth in the street outside the Raúl Leoni Hospital in Guaiparo went viral, one of the largest of the country’s southeast, which used to see dozens of child births a day 15 years ago. As of November 6, it has no resources to bring a single child into the world.

The large hospitals of Ciudad Guayana have become another paradox of the Venezuelan reality: their emergency rooms and consultation rooms are overflowing with patients who need attention and there’s increasingly less personnel to serve them.

Already in April this year, the Chamber of Commerce of Caroní was warning about the repercussions of the diaspora on the health sector, and indicated that, at the time, 50% of the medical staff in clinics had resigned in order to leave the country, leaving vacant posts that are hard to fill.

As of November 6, the Raúl Leoni Hospital in Guaiparo has no resources to bring a single child into the world.

Ciudad Guayana’s Medical Association estimates that over 60% of specialists have left their posts in areas such as cardiovascular surgery, otorhinolaryngology and pediatric surgery. The largest hospital in the area, the Raúl Leoni of Guaiparo, is a training center for post-graduate specialists, but it currently lacks the professionals to fulfill this mission.

Raúl Leoni employees say that in the last three years, the hospital’s situation has been experiencing such a decline that it currently (sort of) works with only one out of the 12 installed operation rooms, and it lacks basic medical supplies such as antibiotics, syringes and compresses.

According to the report issued by the organization Transparencia Venezuela through its Observatory of Missions, Raúl Leoni doctors reported over 100 deaths of patients due to lack of resources in the first two months of 2018 alone.

The other large hospital in Ciudad Guayana, Uyapar, faces similar conditions. This week, the medical staff denounced that several areas have stopped working and others are close to shutdown.

Hugo Lezama, head of Ciudad Guayana’s Medical Association, added that the pediatric area also lacks an Intensive Care Unit, because the company that maintained the equipment left the country.

Guayana citizens are seeing their right to health violated with increasing intensity every day. In addition to the situation of “technical shutdown” in Ciudad Guayana’s two hospitals due to lack of staff, medical supplies, damaged equipment and even insalubrity, the Menca de Leoni Pediatric Hospital, the only one of its kind in the city, has been closed for months; it stopped offering medical attention on April 10 due to a lack of nearly 90% of medical supplies and overflowing sewage that grew so serious that the facilities had to be closed.

Since the Menca de Leoni was closed, its patients are transferred to Uyapar, which is already far beyond its service capacity. Guillermo Valderrama, chief of the pediatric service in the Guaiparo Hospital, says that “the problem isn’t just about the situation in Uyapar, but about the collapse of a health policy that has sadly failed.” Valderrama said that children and the elderly are the most affected by the collapse of medical attention.

Indira Campos says that she now has to tour the city’s medical centers in order to find the appointments for her mom’s private care. “My brothers and I used to be able to gather the money to take her to a private cardiologist, but now we can scarcely scrape enough to buy her pills. That’s why I have to cross the city in order to schedule her consultations, although it’s hard to find a cardiologist now.”

Guayana citizens are seeing their right to health violated with increasing intensity every day.

The crisis in Ciudad Guayana hospitals directly hits the medical staff. Nurses and other personnel say that they practically have to pay in order to go to work after the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security suspended their transport service early this year.

During the first three months of 2018, the nurses of the city’s hospitals staged almost a month of protests denouncing the decline of their salaries and quality of life, a situation that has intensified since President Nicolás Maduro standardized salaries as part of his economic measures announced in August.

The medical staff in Ciudad Guayana that usually covered the night shifts in various public and private centers in order to have an acceptable quality of life and even afford some luxuries, is now split between their professional practice and informal economy as an alternative to mitigate the economic crisis. Many healthcare professionals in Guayana, which used to be an icon of excellence in the area, are now selling food, clothes, trinkets and even second-hand items to try and make ends meet and keep exercising their professions in the land that once gave them the opportunity to grow.

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  1. Not saying that Cuba’s health care system was ever truly top-notch, but it’s always been leaps and bounds the situation in VZ.

    How did Chavismo manage to screw it up so entirely and quickly? It’s like they were trying to do so.

      • Cuba’s medical paradise is a sham. Cuban trained “doctors” are not even as trained as a nurse. The Cuban health statistics are bogus, as well.

          • This is how good the Cuban medical system is: does anybody remember Pakistani medical students protests in 2010?

            “Cuban police armed with assault rifles, bayonets and full riot gear shut down a demonstration Wednesday by medical students from Pakistan protesting what they say is the inferior education they are getting in Cuba, the Cuban blog Babalu reported.

            The foreigners, studying medicine in Jaguey Grande, outside Matanzas, Cuba, have been in an ongoing fight over a government-run university system that they say does not measure up to the requirements they need to pass the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) examination.”

            Not even for Pakistan, a 4th world country!


    • I lived in Cuba for four months in 1999. All that crap you hear about the Cuban medical system is pure propaganda. First world nurses are better trained than the Cuban doctors. Without going into details, I still have the scar to prove it.

      • I visited Cuba in 2003 and visited a medical post to deliver medicines I had brought to Cuba to donate. My impression was that cuban doctors are like venezuelan engineers, they have learned to make do with only a mere fraction of the resources available to professionals in other countries.

      • We have met more than our fair share of Cuban doctors, and you are correct in that they are poorly trained. They are the educational equivalent of Army medics. Splint a fracture, sew up a gash, irrigate a wound. Earache? “Here is your antibiotic” (a Cuban knock-off of any number of patented meds).

        Most are sincere in that they want to help, but they are in no manner physicians. They are part of the Castroist scheme to gather as much Capitalist cash to prop up their failed Marxist paradigm. Cut off their cash flow, and Cuba would be starving within a month.

        The Barrio Adentro we visited in Venezuela years ago was a shambles. The only thing that “Dr. Tito, de Cienfuegos” was good for was impregnating the poor local girls. Which he was quite prolific at.

        • FWIW, I’m not bashing Army medics… I am former Army myself. We called them “Doc” in the field, but they weren’t doctors… they were there to stabilize and evacuate. They were soldiers first, but they were as precious as gold. Everyone protected their “Doc”, because if you got hit, he was the guy who was going to save your bacon.

  2. Bingo. It was always the plan. Everything was. The Devils greatest trick was convincing the world he didn’t exist and people think Maduro is an idiot!!!

  3. Hospitals closed due to lack of supplies, doctors and nurses bachaquiendo to feed their families, and overflowing sewage due to lack of trained plumbers; oil fields closed due to lack of supplies and experienced personnel; fincas closed due to lack of seed, fertilizer and people willing to work. Stores and shops closed due to lack of inventory and customers with money to spend. The Opposition is closed because lack of bolas, and they are still getting paid by the dictatorship. Etc, etc. Time to hang a sign out saying:

    “Venezuela is closed due to lack of interest. Check back often as conditions may improve. Don’t worry about the electricity, it will turn itself off.”

  4. Question, is there a “right to health (sic)?” Health care must be paid for–in free market/capitalistic economies, it’s paid for by individuals via taxes/insurance, with some govt. subsidies for the poor/destitute. In socialist/poorer economies, it’s often heavily subsidized by govts./even free–in these latter economies, when the money runs low/out, so does health care for the poor masses; and, this is actually helpful to the powers-that-be, since the most-affected/needy are the very young/old, which, as they prematurely die, provide a lesser burden on the State (as does mass emigration).

    • NET, while I agree with you in general, there are deceptive and “savage capitalistic “ practices by many big pharma’s. Remember Skrehli the scumbag who bought up the Epipen company, multiplying the price? For Mylan it was a “pay or die” scheme. Only to get crushed when the big, bad government stepped in and free market forces took over:

      That was one of several shitey examples. Another more recent is the insulin scam. Insulon has been around and saving millions of lives for nearly 100 years. But when big pharma and capitalism schemes together tripling pricing over 10 years due to “proprietor manufacturing processes”, posting outrageous list prices “to be negotiated” with insurance companies, putting millions of lives are put at risk:

      Just a couple examples of when a functioning government intervenes, working with free markets to make lives better, save lives.

      Can’t same the same for Venezuela.

      • Hi Gringo 2,

        Markets are no infallible, as human manifestations they can become corrupt as you note so yes, a government has to be in place to break such abuses, but VERY CAREFULLY, the government should minimize its role in picking winners and losers.

        • Reny, agreed. But patients in need should not be the losers. The law suit was filed on behalf of a mother whose son was a Type 1 diabetic. He was 26 yo and dropped from his parents insurance (a beneficiary of the ACA) and could not afford the $1300 a month to pay for his insulin, so he tried to wean himself off. Living alone in his own apartment he dies.

          Imagine why aspirin is available for $1 a bottle, or in name brand for $5. Ok.. but what if it was $1000 bottle, but with the right insurance company discounts it cost only $12. As I wrote, insulin has been used for nearly 100 years. The only thing proprietary is FDA regulations. That’s greed and ineffective governance.

    • NET, I did not directly answer your question, is there “a right to health?” I’d ask a similar question, is there “a right to food?” I hope you’d agree that when a company or government creates a monopoly or conditions (expropriations of food industry) to control and profit from citizens for basic necessities, it is wrong and should change. A more appropriate Venezuelan example, the CLAP bags.

      • There is no universal human right to food. Nor clothing. Nor shelter. (the Big Three)

        You (nor I) have a “right” to take away from someone else for our personal benefit. In most of the world, that is called THEFT.

        • Agreed, EG. But is there a right to “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”? When the government prevents you from working to provide for yourself and your family? When they steal your property to purportedly to to el pueblo and then put it in their pocket? When they force you subscribe to their food plan to survive?

          Or as I explained, when the government allows companies to monopolize products required to live?

          • When Thomas Jefferson wrote “all men are created equal “ he was the owner of 135 human beings.

          • True Mick, but it was abolished in all northern states by 1804, 16 years after the constitution was ratified. The rest of states “adopted” after the civil war. But race lingers. I guess I don’t get your point.

          • There is indeed a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Pursuing all three doesn’t require infringing on the rights of anyone else, ie my happiness doesn’t depend on another persons doing/not doing something.

            The governments roll (my opinion only) is to prevent the rights of one from infringing on the rights of another. The problems starts when The Big Omnipotent Government tries to make the life experience “fair”.

            Feeding (helping, building, treating medically) my South American neighbor isn’t my duty as an American citizen. Nor is it my governments duty. Yet, I feed my South American neighbor via my benevolence. It is never forced or otherwise coerced. I give it with an open, happy heart. Each time I do it, I look forward to the next time, wishing only for more time and treasure. (When I retire, Mrs. Guapo and I will probably spend at least half the year in Guatemala or Honduras.)

            I give. My government (as do most) takes by threat of force.

        • and sometimes recognizing that some cannot take care of themselves, sometimes they need assistance to become self sufficient or relieve suffering, which when given is called charity. Or maybe that is not a nearly universal theme of organized religions?

    • Thank you, NET! I was going to say the same thing.

      Gringo2: Your ideas about “Rights” are exactly the kind of thinking that got Venezuela where it is today.

      El Guapo: Exactly! Every single “Right” granted or asserted comes at the expense of others.

      The U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights is NOT about what the citizens are guaranteed by the Government. It is about what the Government is prohibited from doing to them.

      Looked at from an extreme point of view, even your Right to Life comes at the expense of my right to kill you. Fortunately, I am ok with that. However, if you assert a right to food, and that food is going to have to be provided by stealing it from me, I am not ok with it. I might help you out voluntarily out of the goodness pf my heart, but charity extracted at the point of a gun is not charity. It is robbery.

    • I take issue with the right to health because the outcome are rarely fair. How do you guarantee that your doctor is as good as you want it to be or afford or even like? How do you ration a scarce resource as health care? Who gets more? Your constituency? The hypochondriacs? Certainly the wealthy. The problem is intractable! I certainly see the need of public health policies such as universal vaccinations, but beyond that…

      The right to education is another one that I also question as a ‘right’ because of unfair outcomes. Perhaps it is a right to get educated to a basic literacy level, but beyond that results are too uneven and unfair making it an untenable promise to make to the population. Moreover it creates a monopoly in the government that becomes unresponsive and unfair. Even worse it imposes a centralized model of education and curriculum, on ‘size fits MOST’ (God have mercy for the kid doesn’t fit!) and may enter in conflict with the rights and duties of the parents to educate their children (think of families from strict religious communities).

      • Life expectancy in the US is already lagging behind that of Chile and, of course, most of the EU.
        As for education: the US still has the lead in universities but that is substained only thanks to the immigration of people who came from other countries already with good education levels.

        • You have the source of your information regarding US universities and immigration?

          In regards to your assertion about US healthcare “lagging”: Anyone versed in rhetoric will tell you that anyone can use various “statistics” to prove the earth is flat. For example, life expectancy has more to do with lifestyle and genetics than medical care. But you probably knew that?

          “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” -Benjamin Disraeli.

        • Wrong Kepler! Life expectancy in the EU, (of course!), lags behind MOST of the States in the USA.

          To prove it, all I have to do is cherry-pick the best 26 states, and compare them to ALL of the EU countries. Same technique that you are so fond of.

        • Kepler your argument is true one but it is a ‘move-the-goal-post’, you do not address my claim of inherent unfairness.

          I agree that the healthcare system in the US is inefficient, and many times cruelly unfair, but my point is that the unfairness is inherent to healthcare. Of course all men of good will wish for better healthcare to all, but a right? That is disingenuous.

          P.S. I have heard some right wing apologist slicing number by removing auto accidents, violent deaths and obesity and things don’t look so bad for the life expectancy of Americans.

          P.S.S. Gringolandia?? Really?? For a lefty you sure sound very insensitive, but actually you get positive points on my book. I hate being told what words are verbotem.

        • How come you claim the healthy status of U.S. universities is the result of immigration, but the lower mortality rate isn’t?

          • Back to the topic: please, try for a moment to think the whole discussion is not about either it is the Chavista or the US way.
            There is more than that on Earth.


            I am not, unlike you, very knowleageble on this topic, but I was looking at some data like the one found at a site called and it seems white people like yourself have a lower life expectancy than Latinos. Of course, this is average.

            Blacks have a lower life expectancy than you but those counted as black are mostly non Latinos and their ancestors were in the USA already in 1865 or earlier.

            What I found here seems more interesting:

            So: the best you can do is let more and more Latinos get into the USA, not only into the areas the US occupied of Mexican territory back in 1848 but everywhere there.

            I have not had any problem entering the USA. I have been there many times and it was fun, thanks very much but sincerely I have not been there in the last few years as there are lots of other places I wanted to see and others I still have to see including Albania, Ghana, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Laos and Paraguay. I also would prefer to see a lot of things I have not visited in Italy or Spain or Norway, Estonia or Colombia before I go again to the USA.

            Your whole discussions about health, education, crime, etc, are based on just your US view and Venezuelan experiences and, at best, some anecdotal stuff from Europe about some cousin.

            I am sure we can all learn a lot from the USA…just as we can from San Marino or Japan or Madagascar.

          • Kep, I have no cousin in Europe nor have I ever once discussed the state of health care on that continent. Fortunately, on my visits there I never needed to test any of those services.

            As for my discussions about health, eduction, crime etc, yes, my experiences are based on my US history and that of my years here in Venezuela. Since this is a blog about the current state of affairs in Venezuela, I would hope my observations are of interest to someone reading the site.

            I would also agree that we can all learn a lot from the USA, just as we can from San Marino or Japan or Madagascar. I would never say otherwise.

            Just one question in closing. Why the chip on your shoulder about the US, or is it a chip on your shoulder towards those who appear to be of a differing political persuasion?

        • Right! Amongst mexican americans and central americans the high school rate of drop-outs is astounding and the rate of the ones who graduate from college is abysmal!

    • Of course there is a right to basic food housing and shelter that is provided by government and charity. People that deny that are as savage as the regime.

        • I agree they are not constitutionally enshrined rights. Food, shelter, clothing, functioning hospital emergency rooms that treat even people who can’t pay. These are rights that civil society agrees on either by simple agreement in charters or codify statute. Nothing about them allows for stealing food. No reasonable person would say someone has a “right” to elective surgery, or to demand a 4 bedroom house in the suburbs. But we do need assistance for the venerable members of society. Call it a right for the venerable or an obligation of the collective citizenry. Either way. But to turn our back is not a country I would wish to live in. But all this is much easier to manage in a first world country.

  5. The regime has no interest in perfroming those tasks which dont bring it an inmmediate political advantage , they lack the resources , the people , the means, the organizational capacity and the interest in taking care of peoples basic health needs , the only thing they are good at is that which directly allows them to retain absolute power………., thus they have abandoned all state tasks except for those which performance affords then a greater chance of retaining indefinite absolute power , taking care of the military bosses for example .

  6. “I’m going to stay here because they’ll have to see me even with the baby already born. If I had money to go to a private hospital, I’m even less likely to get attention there.”

    You are less likely to get served at a private institution, even if you had the money? Keep drinking the Kool-Aid, amante de Chavez. You are part of the problem.

    Go home, sister. Every year, all over the world, young women like you, living in Third World shitholes birth new babies with nothing more intrusive than a stick to bite on, and a squat over a towel. I’ve seen it done about 30 times. My wife, hundreds.

    You have NO RIGHT to another persons labor, no matter what your Eternal Commander said.

  7. So you enjoy the suffering of others. Does it make you feel strong and superior watching women give birth that way? Get a grip. Helping people out and reporting like Adriana doing is nobel and much braver than the keyboard warrior you are!

    • There is no logic or rationale in your words. It you who is attempting to assert a moral superiority by claiming that you know better how to distribute wealth than those who created it. Furthermore, you insult those that you want steal from and claim that it is they who are the savages.

      This is pure Chavista rhetoric.

      • Roy, I think Adriana is doing something brave and nobel and ElGuapo is downright cruel the way he insults her. He has no right or authority to tell her to go home. There is a group here that loves to insult Venezuelan people calling them terrible things. They are the ones acting morally superior. Not me. When people pay taxes and use some of that money pay for babies to be born and the elderly to be provided for you improve society. And don’t tell me I’m a chavista because I am in fact a capitalist and believe in free markets and liberal democracy. I don’t believe in a welfare state but I do what people’s minimum needs to be provided for if they are incapable of providing for themself’s. Especially children, Elderly, the handicaped and mentally ill, and people with unforeseen circumstances that can get back on their. It’s called a social compact. It works well. But I’m sure people will call me communist and Chavista. What a crock. I want to see the whole regime behind bars.

        • You kind of flew of the handle for nothing here kak. Go home sister was for the pregnant woman waiting for the doctor to see her, not Miss Tovar.

          • I don’t think it would be wise to go home if she was already having contractions. Public transport what it is today in Guayana or any where else for that matter. Better to have the baby there and hope than take off for home. Just saying.

        • @KAK: What are you going on about? I have said nothing about the author of the above story (Adriana Tovar). I have been commenting on the young, pregnant Chavista acolyte (Madelein Rojas) who insists that she be given her “free medical care”, which she clearly thinks she has a “right” to.

          She has no such right. Nor does she have a right to food, clean water, clothing, shelter nor any other commodity, including the labor of others.

    • @KAK: If a young Venezuelan woman has to give birth, and there is nobody around… does she sputter some words of outrage and wait for a government sanctioned doctor to show up, or does she do what women have done since time immemorial?

      The answer, as you well know, is that she births her baby. The baby certainly doesn’t give the least shit if there is a doctor, nurse midwife, doula or erstwhile homebuilder in attendance or not. It’s coming out regardless of the level of Chavist indignation. Most births are uneventful. A very few result in “poor outcomes”.

      I enjoy seeing no person suffer.

      I certainly don’t suffer fools. Which is why this conversation ends.

      • The availability of public health care during pregnancy and childbirth has done wonders for reductions in mortality and harm and for longer term and better outcomes for children (and their mothers) into adulthood. This is one of the irrefutable, crowning achievements of the modern age.

        • I don’t disagree. The point is the expectant mother has no right to the forced labor of an obstetrician just because said mother wants a doctor.

          Unless forcing doctors to work against their will is something you think we should be embracing?

          • Excellent. Then we agree that doctors (including my wife) have no duty to offer their time and talents because someone else simply demands it.

            In other words, there is no “right” to healthcare.

            Likewise, I shouldn’t be forced to build John Q. Public a home because he thinks he has a “right” to shelter.

          • I think you are conflating “forced labour” with terms and conditions of employment determined by the state and voluntarily assumed, El Guapo.

            That the state assumes the role of providing health care, directly or indirectly, and sets the terms under which doctors can provide it, does not prove or disprove that it is a “right”. There are widely agreed to international instruments that define health care as a right, and some national constitutions do to, but what exists in practice may be an entirely other thing (as is currently the case in Venezuela). There may be no “right” but universal health care. There may be a “right”, and care centers that look not much different from the local butcher.

  8. I posted this yesterday as a reply to Canucklehead, seems apropos:

    But if anything is the zeitgeist of Chavismo it is the social resentment against those Venezuelans that benefited from the oil wealth by becoming a cosmopolitan middle class. It is those that went to those public universities and beyond and became the professional class. It is the stereotypical PDVSA company man pre-2002 that Chavista “de a pie” envied.

    So Chavismo took it on destroying the middle class world with glee. PDVSA became roja-rojita, and all the other crazy ass economic measures they took. “Se jodieron esos escualidos, viva el Comandante!” wait for your pernil del CLAP (what an unfortunate and appropriate name this is in English).

    So the middle class left and now Chavistas have no doctors or plumbers or mechanics … They sawed off the limb of the middle class, only to find out that they were sitting at the far end of it.

  9. Some of you have heard this already, but my wife and I spend at least two weeks each year bringing our time, talent and treasure to various Third World countries that need the help. She is a physician and I am a builder. She belongs to a group of medical professionals that offer “FREE” (zero cost to the patient) surgical repair of cleft palates and other facial deformities. The vast majority of the medical equipment is donated, or purchased with wealth that has been given via benevolence. I build buildings (dorms, clinics, schools, etc) as I have ZERO medical talent, but have the uncanny ability to organize a group of men to pitch in and build a building, which they are more than happy to do.

    The vast majority of these people have never seen a proper doctor in their lives. There are no obstetricians, no anesthesia, no surgeons in their lives. So when some kid is born with a cleft palate, believe me when I say that the village is VERY happy to have The Gringos come to town and fix up these beautiful babies. And it is good for our souls too.

    The point being, we are not required to offer our time, talent or treasure. We donate all of it, and our only regret is that we can’t do more. I am happy happy HAPPY when I return home, and start the process again of seeking donations for these families for the next year.

    Compare and contrast that to a government (Chavismo) who INSISTS that the achiever work daily at a profit loss. That the doctors must work 12 hour days, with little/nothing in the way of supplies, for $7 per month… and be grateful? Multiply this by every farmer, retailer, or manufacturer in the nation. I certainly wouldn’t stick around, when my talents aren’t appreciated.

    • That is very nice what you do. Also in very stark contrast to your comments on what Adriana is doing to expose the cruelty of the dictatorships indifference and incompetence. I was just annoyed because we hear such harsh and judgmental comments here too much. We are all very frustrated with what is going on there so I guess we all can get carried away. I do admire and respect you and your wife’s volunteer work.

    • If you look at NGOs doing work in places like say Guatemala, the inescapable fact is, a system that relies on charity leaves most people without adequate or life saving care. That is not a critique of the people who do that charitable work- I am a supporter, though I am not so keen on charity offered contingent on religious or ideological affiliation or indoctrination. There are all kinds.

      This charity is good work, self-less work, sometimes dangerous work, but it is not a solution. It is a humanitarian response in the face of a failed system. In places like Guatemala, it is like a random group of well intentioned passers by offering a tiny life raft to a handful of people in the wake of a sinking Titanic.

      • Canucklehead:

        In any healthcare paradigm, you can have two of three things:
        1. Universal healthcare (everyone, cradle to grave)
        2. Comprehensive healthcare (quality care, when its needed)
        3. Low cost. (taxes)

        Which two do you figure the NHS in Britain has? Medicare in Canada?

          • I would suggest to you that Canada has a universal, low cost healthcare paradigm. This at the cost of comprehensive care.

            Which is why our border states in the US are being flooded by Canadians who are willing to mortgage everything in order to get the best healthcare in the world, when they need it*. Their Canadian “Medicare” is essentially useless to those who need it. But its AWESOME to the young and healthy who need well baby checks and immunizations.


            *Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has more CT and MRI scanners in one city than Canada has in its entirety.


          • The number of MRI machines per capita is not a reflection of better health care, but the unusually high number of MRI machines in the USA compared to other countries in the Western world is a reflection of expensive health care.

            I’d say that from my observation, the phenomenon of “gold-plating” also existed in the Venezuelan private system when I used it.

            I think you have a very distorted picture of health care in Canada, and that is a function of it becoming an increasingly fraught subject of partisan debate in the USA, and a concern for very powerful corporate interests. I do agree that cutting-edge medical care in the USA can be extraordinary. It is also inaccessible to almost everybody.

          • The number of MRI machines in Canada is a reflection of the priorities of the Canadian healthcare paradigm.

            Canada (as well as many other Socialized medicine countries) decided it wanted a universal, low cost plan that came at the expense of excellence and service. And they did a great job.

            Just don’t get sick.

  10. Using Venezuela under chavismo as an object lesson about the general efficacy of publicly run health care is about as useful as using the Venezuelan justice system as an object lesson about the general efficacy of publicly run policing and courts. That is to say, not useful at all.

    The interesting and revealing thing to me about the regime’s approach to health care is that they left intact a comprehensive private system, with private insurance. Some first world, free-market countries do not have that. I have always believed that the reason for this approach by the regime is, if you were in a good position in government, that was the system you used. Same with private schools. Same with security.

    In this way, the regime itself is insulated from the destructive effects of their corruption and mismanagement. They have held on to a two tier system: one for the haves, and one for the have-nots. By comparison, the genius of true public health care systems is that I get the same GP for checkups, and the same surgical team, as the people determining health care policy where I live. Everyone has a direct stake in the outcomes.

    On the question of whether health care is a “right”, I think that debate is mostly esoteric. It seems perfectly constructed for meaningless cable news fights. We have an obligation to ensure access to good health care for all, just as we have an obligation to rescue people from burning buildings, put violent offenders in jail, or feed the hungry. Jurisdictions that do not provide formal systems of access to adequate public services, and/or affordable insurance, just shift the cost to individuals and organizations who meet their professional and moral obligations, and in the long run, that sort of ad hoc approach ends up costing everyone more, being less efficient, and increasing the prevalence and severity of sickness.

    • Why don’t you tell us all a little about how well our healthcare system works Cannuck. Get into some of the details like year long waiting list for an MRI or how wage caps tend to leave us with only the mediocre doctors while the best go elsewhere. Or since we have no mal practice laws or liabilities and botched operations and mis diagnostics cause thousands of deaths which are swept under the carpet, intentionally mis diagnosing cancer and prescribing other illness medicine for decades (happened to my grandmother, right up to the end she trusted and believed in her family doctor. I don’t know what’s worse, shitty doctors prescribing all kinds of expensive medicine for pharmaceutical companies benefit, or good doctors who have nothing to work with anyway. You have to put a bullet into me before I’ll go to any hospital, but that’s just me. I know Canadians who go to the doctor every time they sniffle and our doctors are more than happy to bill the government for that 5 minute revision and of course prescribe drugs so that our happy hypocondriac can go home satisfied that they are getting the best use of universal health care.

      • A small percentage of people, like you, prefer self-help. Some suffer delusions and misconceptions that prevent them from getting the help that they need. The studies and statistics demonstrate the relative efficacy of our system. If you believe in those things, that is. The laws of tort and negligence are alive and well in our country Marc, you just have to use The Google.

          • Google: Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Canada. One of those folks can help you.

            For cases, try Googling: Books on Medical Malpractice Law in Canada.

            Books full of cases, I say. Books of them.

          • OH just found one Cannuck!!! It’s called: The Consumers Guide to Medical Malpractice Claims in Canada. (Why 98% of medical malpractice victims in Canada never receive a penny in compensation.) great read, really good stuff.

          • Remarkable figure. I wonder if that figure means that our doctors are usually right, or it means our courts are rigged by the doctors and insurance companies, or perhaps it means that the definition of “medical malpractice victim” was pulled out of someone’s gluetous maximus.

            I give up. Stay safe brother.

    • And anyone using Cuba as an example of good healthcare is severely uninformed. Or anyone using Cuba as an example of anything good.

    • Dude, I am sorry to hear you don’t like the medical advice you get, but I also hate to think where you might get your financial advice, with that outlook.

      • Well, don’t get your financial advice from Trudeau.

        His infrastructure bank is a doozy!

        Lend money to big companies, and if the project fails, the taxpayer picks up the bill!

        • Wow. A doozy. His infrastructure bank, no less.

          Ira, since commenting on Caracas Chronicles, you have become a veritable font of information on Canada and Canadian current events. Surely you owe me some thanks for that.

        • Official Canadian government policy is: if it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, tax it again. When it finally stops moving, subsidize it.

  11. Universal anything just brings everyone down to the lowest common denominator. We’ve been over this many times.
    “You are born, you take a shit, you grow up, you take shit, and then one day you climb high enough that you are out of the shit and you can’t even remember what it smells like. It’s the layer cake”
    If nobody ever gets high enough to not have to smell the shit then where is the incentive to climb out of it?

    • What are your thoughts about Universal Studios? Universal Standards (weights and measures)? Universal Remotes? Universal gift cards? Universal suffrage? Universal Adapters? Universal blood type? Universal joint sockets? Universal garage door openers? I could go on but I won’t bore you further.

  12. Reposted (in part) from above

    In any healthcare paradigm, you can have two of three things:
    1. Universal coverage (everyone, cradle to grave)
    2. Comprehensive healthcare (quality care, when its needed)
    3. Low cost. (taxes)

    Waddaya suppose the healthcare in Norway is like?

    My 2nd cousin (Stavanger, Norway) had gallstones. He had suffered with them for years, with various flare ups. Norway kept telling him “no”. Every few years he comes over to the US to visit. The last time he was here, he had decided he had enough of waiting. While in Duluth (Minnesota) he had an “acute exacerbation of his gallstones”. The local doctors ultrasounded his abdomen and indeed, he did have gallstones. 3 hours later, they were out. Two days later he was back touring the North Shore.

    If I am not mistaken, the Norwegian healthcare paradigm picked up the tab. (I don’t know this for sure). The point being, he couldn’t get the care he needed in Norway because some bureaucrat felt it wasn’t needed, and the resources weren’t available.

    What is the cost of having “free” universal healthcare that you can’t use when you need it?

    • On the bright side your relative got a nice trip to Minnesota and the procedure was paid for by Norway. That is a win/win. I just hope he did not come this time of year.

      • No, he usually comes in the summer, when all of Norway mostly shuts down.

        Shouldn’t happenthough, should it? What a shame that my cousin had to spend one minute in a US hospital because he couldn’t get the care he needed at any cost in Norway.

        • Jim Gaffigan does a funny bit about that on his Cinco special, about people who live in cold weather places:

          “Well, we lived here while it was freezing and miserable…now that it’s nice, let’s go somewhere else!”

    • It is true that for non-critical procedures that your family doctor can’t handle, there is usually a wait. The concept is called triage. Nobody likes to hear that their problem is not top priority, so there are people who gripe. If you don’t like the wait, you can go somewhere else (Duluth, or Mexico) and pay for it.

      But in your private system, it is a misconception that you can get whatever medical care you want, when you want it. In a private system where insurance companies rule the day, some insurance bureaucrat is making decisions about what care you can get and can’t get, and the criteria for those decisions are a lot less nice than a bunch of doctors in a public system organizing their surgery schedules.

      Your friend from Norway. It strikes me as unusual if someone had an acute exacerbation of their gallstones that they would show up in emerg and be turned away without that being dealt with immediately. Your friend had the misfortune of having a flare up on a trip. Stuff like that happens. Its life.

      In our system, if you show up in emergency and have a problem, it gets dealt with that same visit. Maybe after the guy with the axe head stuck in his arm is stabilized. The system has its faults, but it is fair, and the results in terms of lower cost and substantially better medical outcomes both short term and long term speak for themselves. And no, some private insurer and private doctor, both driven by the profit motive, are not deciding what care you need or don’t need.

      • His gallstones didn’t “flare up”. The American hospitalization was planned all along.

        The point being, he was told he had universal, comprehensive Norwegian healthcare when in fact, he didn’t. While he was “covered”, he couldn’t get the care he needed when he needed it due to economic priorities. (I understand the concept of triage)

      • But in your private system, it is a misconception that you can get whatever medical care you want, when you want it. In a private system where insurance companies rule the day, some insurance bureaucrat is making decisions about what care you can get and can’t get, and the criteria for those decisions are a lot less nice than a bunch of doctors in a public system organizing their surgery schedules.

        What utter horseshit.

        1. Insurance. You buy insurance (home, car, health, etc) in the hopes it won’t be used. Its called actuarial science. Insurers cannot under any circumstances tell you what medical care you can or cannot have. They can only tell you if you will be reimbursed for the coverage you purchased. If you buy car insurance (liability only) and you crash into someones house, your insurance company pays out for the damage of the home. IT WILL NOT PAY FOR YOUR RUINED AUTO, because it wasn’t a comprehensive coverage policy. They cannot prevent you from fixing your ruined car.

        2. In a public paradigm, a government bureaucrat decides if the medical care you desire will be offered to you at any price. That is a fact. In the UK, the name for this uncaring government agency is NICE. (can’t make this shit up!)

        They decide if your heart condition, prostate cancer or kidney failure gets treated or not. Most often, the bureaucratic “decision tree” stipulates that the patient be treated medically (pills) before any other level of treatment is even considered. Oftentimes, in the case of cancer, the conditions worsen to the point where only palliative care is then considered. “Sorry about the metastasis to your spine. Here is your morphine prescription, Gramps… and God Save the Queen!”

        There is no Plan B, unless that plan is to mortgage everything and come to the US (or any other country that offers private healthcare) to seek out-of-pocket care. We have on several occasions hosted families from the UK and Canada who cannot get treatment in their homeland at any price.

        Do you actually believe your own bullshit?

        • Insurers effectively decide what treatment people can get because it is the treatment they will be able to pay for. Sure, people can self insure by paying directly. They can here too. If I want my MRI faster, I can pay for it at a private clinic here and get it immediately, or I can go to Duluth. However, the people who decide what treatment is covered for me are medical professionals, not insurance company bean counters.

          You are misinformed about the medical system here, as I have said.

          • “Insurers effectively decide what treatment people can get because it is the treatment they will be able to pay for.”

            Much like the prostate patient who failed to learn about the side-effects of the surgery, is buying insurance and then being suprised about what’s covered and what’s not, much the same?

            I paid for a lot of health insurance over the year when I lived in the states. I don’t recall ever having any suprises about what whas covered and what was not.

            I always carried a relatively high deductible to reduce overall costs and then once I reached that level, the insurance took over.

          • “I can pay for it at a private clinic here and get it immediately, or I can go to Duluth. However, the people who decide what treatment is covered for me are medical professionals, not insurance company bean counters.

            You are misinformed about the medical system here, as I have said.”


            It wasn’t that long ago that a group of investors decided that they wanted to put out their shingle as a cash only, one-stop shoppe for those seeking CT and MRI scans in British Colombia. No insurance accepted of any kind. Just cash. Same day, first come, first served. Your scan is read immediately by board certified radiologists.

            On DAY ONE, a representative of the Canadian government shut them down when he said he wanted a CT scan and he wanted to use his Canadian health insurance. When the scanners said no (cash only) the Canadian government had them closed down. And the reason is that the Canadian government thinks it is UNFAIR for Canadians with money to be able to get expedient medical care while the rest of the “true believers” in the failed Socialist paradigm have to wait months or years for their scans.

            Apparently, they have backpeddled a little on “private pay” in Canada.

            Here is an example

            “Saskatchewan’s move to allow patients to buy their own CT scans has the Opposition raising concerns, calling it a slippery slope to more privatized health.

            Legislation on the matter was tabled Wednesday. The proposed law would allow a patient to pay for a CT scan —
            so long as the private clinic offering the service does a second scan for someone on a public wait list for the procedure.

            It’s the same scheme the province uses for private-purchased MRIs.”


            Ooooh. Scary vile Capitalists offering privatized healthcare!

  13. My niece in Calgary was diagnosed with a high risk pregnancy, risk to child. Don’t remember the details, but wasn’t granted an appointment with the specialist until like 5 months later.

    Now, thank God everything turned about fine, but the first doctor was wrong and the second doctor was right. So that’s a 50% failure rate.

    More important than that:

    Can you imagine living 5 months thinking you’re carrying a child who’s going to die or be deformed/defective?

    Of course, this is just a small piece of the overall anectodal evidence, but it’s enough for her and her husband.

    • I know someone who recently had his prostate cancer operated on in Calgary. Doctors did not even tell him that with that surgery choice he might need to wear diapers the rest of his life, which is now the case. That case makes me fear canadian medicine.

      • I’m sorry but assuming what this guy is telling you is true, he would be the first man on the planet scheduled for prostate surgery who did not immediately make it his full time occupation to find out every detail (including the basics) about how it might affect how his junk worked after the surgery. Remarkable story.

        • Victim blaming again, Canuckehead?

          Its pretty safe to assume that the Canadian doctor who didn’t explain to his patient the well known (to urologists) outcome of incontinence after a radical retropubic prostatectomy won’t be on the hook financially. The Canadian legal system is geared towards protecting it own malfeasance.

  14. Just wanted to say this.

    Not sure of the origin of the photo at the top of the story, but if it’s in a hospital in Guyana (or anywhere else in Venezuela for that matter), then it’s far clearner and better-equipped than anything I’ve ever seen here. I visited a friend who had surgery in Maturin’s largest hospital, Hospital Central Manuel Núñez Tovar, and the place could only be described as horrid. And that was at least 12 years ago before all the benefits of socialism really kicked in.

    I’m guessing the photo above is in some private clinic.

  15. Having recently arrived in the U.S. after living abroad for a long time, I do think that there is a lot to criticize about the health care system here. It is horribly expensive, and the rules assure that a lot of unnecessary tests and procedures are done. But, the quality of the facilities and technology is excellent.

    Unfortunately, I see no hope for improvement without starting with tort reform and without recognizing that the AMA is a type of federally protected monopoly that needs to be broken up.

    • This from my wife, a physician:

      The AMA is a special interest group, much like the AARP or the NRA. Its sole purpose is to promote the interests of its membership (leftist physicians) and the various entities that contribute to its world vision. It isn’t a company, nor is it a quasi governmental agency, like the FDIC or PBGC.

      This from me:

      Tort reform is essential. In the US, every time Grandma gets a headache, she gets a CT scan as her medical providers will get sued by the parade of ambulance chasers because they didn’t exclude every possibility. THAT is why costs are so high.

    • “Unfortunately, I see no hope for improvement without starting with tort reform ”

      You took the words right out of my mouth Roy.

      • Tort reform! It’s grandma fighting the corporations in court that has made our system so expensive! Take away grandma’s avenue for redress, and the system will work! No more liability, and we pass on the savings of not having to fight grandma to the consumer, with the same high standard of care you’ve come to expect (just not accountable to grandma if we do screw up).

        Hey guys, you might get some tips on ‘tort reform’ from the Bolivarian ministry of justice.

        • So Roy mentions the need for tort reform and you immediately take the argument to its extreme with an even more extreme argument about Grandma and then laugh because you’re so smart.

        • @Canucklehead: Let us know when Canada allows ambulance chasers to sue the Canadian health system at the “no limits” level. Then we’ll talk.

  16. In my view/experience, U.S. medical care, in general, is excellent, far superior to the socialized alternatives, such as in GB/Canada, for the reasons expressed by many above. The ONE good thing Obama did was push through Obamacare (ACA), which was supported by some 65+% of Republican/85% of Democratic voters (my recall), and, therefore, will eventually not be eliminated by the recent adverse lower-court judicial decision. The ACA forces insurance companies to offer (at affordable pricing) medical insurance to the many tens of millions with pre-conditions/no medical insurance, who otherwise could not get medical insurance at any price.

    • While in college, I worked part-time (45 hours per week) at an emergency room at a local hospital. We never, ever, once refused to treat anyone, ever.

      Also, it’s my understanding that no one is ever refused treatment for any illness as virtually every city of any size at all is part of a “charity” hospital system that accepts everyone regardless of financial status.

      Maybe that’s changed in the years that I’ve not lived in the US, but I doubt it.

      • I believe that U.S. hospitals by law must accept all real emergency cases regardless of ability to pay. Also, many U.S. hospitals receive some kind of federal/state/other grants to help pay for part of the really needy non-emergency cases, but this type of aid in total only covers a small fraction of those really needy. For chronic cardiac/cancer/diabetes/ patients, without insurance, but with medical preconditions, there really was no really effective/inclusive medical care insurance available before the ACA, which does give one the possibility of “universal care”, but for which, in the immortal words of RCTV’s Hermano Coco, “hay que pagar” (but not too much).

        • Yes. That’s why ACA reduces healthcare costs. The state and the consumer are paying for the uninsured one way or another. The system is more efficient, and provides better health care at less cost to private health care providers and the already insured (to whom the extra costs from uninsured are passed on), if the uninsured are insured, by mandate and if necessary, through (less costly) insurance subsidies.

          • There are only 16 robots who post here. 6 or 8 Gringos, 1 Pilkunqualquiera, un renacuajo, y el mrubio, ese. Y unas otras.

  17. The comments here are more relevant to the United States than to Venezuela.

    To rebuild its medical system, Venezuela will need a huge investment in infrastructure that includes not only hospitals but also less obvious things like an enormous amount of repairs to the potable water system that has been left to deteriorate for at least 20 years.

    Once some of those investments are being made by a new government, some of the doctors who have left may return to Venezuela.

    Where will that future investment come from? That is a difficult question, but my guess is that it will be from a combination of private and public resources.

    I will criticize someone, and that someone is the World Health Organization. For all WHO’s rhetoric about universal health care, WHO and PAHO have hardly lifted a finger to deal or help with the medical problems in Venezuela that include epidemics of malaria and measles. WHO and PAHO do not lack experience with these issues!


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